The Cardinals have agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran catcher Matt Wieters, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). Salary terms are not yet known.
While he held out in hopes of securing a MLB commitment, the 32-year-old Wieters will settle instead for a chance to serve as a backup to Yadier Molina. The competition is fairly limited. Francisco Pena seemingly held the edge at the outset of camp after re-joining the organization on a minors pact. Joe Hudson is the only other backstop in camp with MLB experience.
Wieters can still put the ball over the fence, and posted career-best plate discipline marks in 2018, but he has not been very productive with the bat of late. Since the start of the 2016 season, he’s producing at only a .235/.303/.376 rate through 1,200 trips to the plate. That’s a far cry from the .254/.317/.436 output that Wieters managed over the prior half-decade.
Wieters isn’t generally regarded as a high-quality overall defender at this stage of his career, and fares poorly in particular in pitch-framing metrics, but does still block, throw, and manage a staff well. It’s possible there’s still some hope that he’ll restore some of his lost luster with the bat, making this a nice low-risk move for the St. Louis organization.
For the Cards, the addition deepens the catching unit as Molina closes in on his 37th birthday and works to recover from an offseason knee procedure. The switch-hitting Wieters has historically performed better against right-handed pitching, as has Molina, but neither carries significant career platoon splits. If Wieters can beat out Pena for the job, he seems like a potentially solid mate for Molina.
Source: Jeff Todd